Hungarian Orchestras and Eötvös Foundation/ Magyar zenekarok és az Eötvös Alapítvány

Liszt: From the Cradle to the Grave
Gregory Vajda: Gloomy Sunday Variations
Liszt: Piano Concerto No.2 in A (Peter Kiss, piano)
Mendelssohn: Symphony No.5 “Reformation”

the program above is on tomorrow for my debut performance with the Kodály Philharmony (Debrecen, Hungary). This concert marks another milestone in the series of concerts in the last couple of years in which I finally had the chance to work with all the major local orchestras in Hungary. I am privileged to work with the Pannon Philharmonic Orchestra a couple of times a year for multiple seasons now (they are based in Pécs, Hungary), but as of 2019 I have had the pleasure to work with the Györ Philharmonic orchestra (last summer for the European Clarinet Conference), the Miskolc Symphony (just last month with two concerts and a beautifully challenging program of music by Brahms and Stravinsky), and the Szeged Symphony (Schumann and Mahler, but I also conducted them in Mozart’s The Magic Flute as my London debut). I have worked with the Savaria Symphony as well, a group I have known for a while from the Bartok Festival and Seminar, and to which I will be returning next season for a subscription concert.

The month of April was busy with the last Casual Classics of the season in Huntsville (Alabama Storytellers II), a conducting an composition masterclass at the Budapest Music Center, where I was teaching alongside with the world famous composer Kaija Saariaho, Peter Eötvös and the former General Music Director of the Budapest Opera, Peter Halász. The Peter Eötvös Foundation has also made my role with them official and named me Program Director. In a week I am looking forward to returning to Huntsville to conduct the 6th Classical Concert of the 18-19 season with the wonderful Susanna Phillips as soloist.

A fenti linken olvasható az idei szezon utolsó nagy klasszikus programja, amelyet a a Huntsville Symphony élén vezényelek. A Metropolitan Opera sztárja, Susanna Phillips énekel majd Strauss Négy utolsó énekében, és a W.B. Yeats versére írott zenekari dalomban.
Áprilisban Kaija Saariaho, Eötvös Péter és Halázs Péter professzortársaként taníthattam a Budapest Music Centerben, és a mesterkurzus zárókoncertjének apropóján az alábbi interjút adtam a Papagenónak, amelyben a Programigazgatóvá való kinevezésemről, és az Alapítvány terveiről is szó esik.

Holnap (április 23) a debreceni Kölcsey Központban debütálok a Kodály Filharmónia élén az alábbi műsorral.

Liszt: A bölcsőtől a sírig
Vajda Gergely: Szomorú vasárnap variációk
Liszt: Piano II. zongoraverseny (Kiss Péter -zongora)
Mendelssohn: V. szimfónia, “Reformáció”

A koncert egy újabb fontos állomása annak a szerencsésen alakult sorozatnak, amelynek részeként az elmúlt pár évben karmesterként bemutatkozhattam az összes nagyobb magyar zenekar élén, bizonyítandó, hogy Budapesten kívül is van komolyzenei élet, de még milyen! Időben visszafelé haladva: Kodály Filharmónia (Debrecen), Miskolci Szimfonikusok, Győri Filharmonikus Zenekar, Szegedi Szimfonikusok. A szombathelyi Savaria Szimfonikusokat és a pécsi Pannon Filharmonikusokat már többször dirigálhattam, és idén is, valamint a 2019-20-as szezonban is visszatérek hozzájuk vendégkarmesterként.

March 15 in Budapest/ Március 15 Budapesten

I am writing this post on March 15, Independence Day of Hungary, in Budapest. This long, festive weekend marks the first three consecutive days off for over a month. I have been working and traveling a lot, and it won’t change much until the end of the season. Since my last post I have conducted the Hungarian Radio Symphony at the Liszt Academy (including the World Premiere of my newest orchestral composition, Gloomy Sunday Variations), the Huntsville Symphony in two different programs, and taught a masterclass at the Budapest Music Center with Heinz Holliger and Peter Eötvös. I am getting ready to conduct the magnificent Symphony No. 3 by Gustav Mahler with the Hungarian Radio Symphony at MUPA (Palace of the Arts) on March 20,
then Brahms Piano Concerto No.1 (Jozsef Balog as soloist) and Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring with the Miskolc Symphony on two occasions.
March 15, a beautiful Spring day, National Holiday in Hungary. My musical journey continues on Monday.

Március 15, Nemzeti Ünnepünk, gyönyörű tavaszi nap Budapesten. A mostani hosszú hétvége az első összefügő három nap, amikor egy kicsit megpihenhetek, és erőt gyűjthetek a következő nagy kihívásra. Március 20-án vezényelem Mahler III. szimfóniáját a Magyar Rádió Zenei Együttesei élén a MÜPÁban.
Februári blogbejegyzésem óta két különböző programban vezényeltem a Huntsville Symphony-t, a Zeneakadémián a Rádiózenekarral bemutattam Szomorú Vasárnap című zenekari művemet, mesterkurzust tanítottam a BMC-ben Heinz Holligerrel és Eötvös Péterrel. A Pannon Filharmonikusokkal folytattuk az angol nyelvű “Classical Chill” koncertek sorozatát. Mahler Harmadikja után a Miskolci Szimfonikusokkal lesz két hangversenyem Brahms I. Zongoraversenyével (Balog József) és Sztravinszkij Tavaszi Áldozatával a programban.
A zenei utazás hétfőn folytatódik.

Les feux d’artifice

“The fireworks have ended. They did not last long.”
These are the last words of Rufus Wainwright’s opera “Prima Donna”. The premiere is this afternoon at the Kodály Center in Pecs (Southern Hungary), second performance on June 28 in Budapest with a live HD broadcast on Arte Concert. Check out the cast here:
Watch out for the broadcast details on FaceBook and on Twitter! Until then here is a concert video from Paris with the fully orchestrated version of the song.

I have spent a lot of time this past month with wonderful “prima donnas” and talented singers in productions of the following operas:
Kamillo Lendvay: The respectable Prostitute
Gyorgy Ligeti: Le grand macabre
Mate Bella: Spring Awakening
Gabor Peter Mezei: By the Catafalque
Arpad Solti: La Violetta

After “MagyarFeszt” (a festival of Hungarian operas organized by the State Opera), I was invited to teach a conducting master class with Peter Eötvös at his Contemporary Music Institute. It was a great week with the Danubia Orchestra and the music of Wolfgang Rihm and Zoltan Kodály. Next week, with the June 28 performance of “Prima Donna” opens the 10th Armel Opera Festival and Competition. I will also conduct the final gala concert of the Armel Festival with award winning singers from France and Hungary. It’s going to be a nice change of pace with music by Mozart, Donizetti, Bizet, Gounod and others.

Stay tuned and thanks for reading!

When Things All Come Together

The title of this post “When Things Come Together” could also be “When Many Things Happen at the Same Time”. Professional achievements in arts do not follow a straight timeline. After finishing a highly successful conducting masterclass for the Eötvös Contemporary Music Foundation (In focus: Bartók, Kurtág and Lachenmann) I dove into the preparation of the Academy of Music production of Hans Werner Henze’s opera, Elegy for Young Lovers. This is the year end stage performance exam of the students and also the closing production of Armel Opera Festival 2016. There will be a live broadcast on the website ARTE TV. Please follow the link next to the production details here:
Side note: today is Henze’s 90th Birthday and the percussion players of the Pannon Philharmonic presented mini-Milka chocolate bars placed in an upside down cymbal (see picture on FaceBook). I just love these “artsy” coincidences. And chocolate is always good. 🙂
In the meantime ARMEL Opera Festival performances are on every evening (and also can be watched online thanks to ARTE) therefore I spend a lot of time giving interviews to papers, TV and radio stations, cultural websites during the day.
Two days ago László Gőz, director of the Budapest Music Center called a meeting for everybody who participated and helped the making of the first ever studio recording of Peter Eötvös’ opera entitled “Paradise Reloaded (Lilith)”. BMC staff members and leadership (practically the producers of the recording) and colleagues from the Hungarian Radio and from Palace of the Arts (they were co-producers of the 2014 recording and live performance) were there along with the composer himself and his wife (also librettist of the opera). We opened champagne and talked about the long process of how this wonderful recording finally came to life. It took more than two years but things definitely did come together for this project.
I am planning to write in detail about this and another World-premiere recording (Dohnányi: The Tenor) I conducted in 2014-15 once both CDs are available to the general public.

Things all came together in the last few weeks: a busy and successful conducting masterclass, a very promising Henze production rehearsal period, an exciting opera festival, and an intimate celebration of a new product: a contemporary opera’s World Premiere CD recorded in 2014, with a September 2016 release date.

My Father’s Son

It’s not so much that “the show must go on”, rather, that I am my father’s son.
My Dad, József Vajda, former principal bassoonist of the Hungarian Radio Symphony and retired professor of the Liszt Academy in Budapest passed away 10 days ago. Since then I have done a Casual Classic show with the Huntsville Symphony and I am getting ready to start rehearsals for our Classical 5 program with the Canadian Brass. My Dad worked all his life and was a master of his craft, and a great teacher. I am finding that work helps me cope with my loss and staying active means staying true to my father’s spirit.

Here are the two programs for Huntsville:
Casual Classics 2 at the Historic Train Depot Roundhouse
Telemann: Tafelmusik Suite #3 “Il delirio fantastico”
Telemann: Alster Echo Suite

Classical 5 “The Americas” at the Von Braun Center
Marquez: Danzon #2
All American music played by Canadian Brass
Bramwell Tovey: Manhattan Music for brass quintet and orchestra
Bernstein: Divertimento

Next week I am going to start a project with the Pannon Philharmonic in southern Hungary. We’ll be playing a show at the Kodaly Center in Pecs and will repeat it at the Liszt Academy as well.

“Dance on the Moon”
Griffes: Poem
Schönberg: Pierrot lunaire (with special projections and lights)
Stravinsky: Song of the Nightingale
Ibert: Flute Concerto

I will be spending a lot of time with my family members while in Hungary, attending the funeral and doing a Celebration of Life in memory of my Father.